A grainy, bug-spattered view through the window of a moving car. The main subject is a gigantic sculpture of a steer head with magnificent horns. Cows are in the foreground.

That’s a picture of a giant steer head taken from the front seat of the U-Haul Al and I moved out here in back in 2001. It is the beginning of my digital photography corpus, more or less. I have a sneaking suspicion this is actually the oldest digital photo I have, taken on a visit to Portland in April of 2001 before deciding to move here from Virginia:

a very grainy, blurry photo of a lit panel in a transit station depicting illustrations of a skunk, a warning stripe, and a snake.

I took it on the little snap-in camera they made for the Handspring Visor.

Today, whew: 59,351 variably curated digital photos from 2001 to now all sitting in Lightroom.

Now that everything is up in a pair of cloud buckets, I can split out a pre-2014 catalog into its own space. It’s a mostly arbitrary date that includes Ben’s first six years then a few lull years where I wasn’t taking many pictures. I don’t tend to go back into that stuff, and most of it is in Apple Photos where I can go get it easily enough.

I’m grateful for the CenturyLink connection. It’s working well (🤞🏻through the current weather) and makes it easy to push a lot up into a bucket quickly, and the pre-2014 stuff is pretty lightweight anyhow: Lots of jpegs compared to later years, on sub-10-megapixel sensors.

Anyhow, the plan is:

  • Get that very old stuff into an archival cloud space where it can rest mostly untouched, and a local NAS space where it’s there if I want it.
  • Get that very old stuff out of the active Lightroom instances (the Lightroom Classic catalog, which is only partially in Adobe’s cloud, and the Lightroom CC subset, which is a mishmash of originals and “actually LrC-only Smart Copies.")
  • Face down curation of 2018 (6100 images) and 2020 (9750 images).
  • Take a hand to my Smugmug account. It’s a mess. Some by-hand albums, some stuff that was syncing out of LrC but isn’t now, some stuff using the bridge in Lightroom.

Arq running on the Mac Studio is making all this pretty nice to manage: I’ve got my two cloud backup locations plus the NAS set up as endpoints. I can make backup plans for each of those endpoints and schedule them from one place.

Looking way ahead

If I can sit still long enough to battle down 2018 and 2020, I’ll be closer to where I really want to be, which is more tool agnostic. Adobe’s got me in a death grip right now because there’s so much ambiguity about what is in its cloud, where the edits are for some images, and how well protected I am from doing something dumb and losing stuff. I gave DXO PhotoLab a try and liked it, but not enough to get me out of Lightroom this year. Until I can get everything simplified and sane, though, I can’t imagine moving to a workflow that doesn’t involve someone else managing sync for me.